Episcopal panel warns bishop not to sell Newport’s St. James church property
An ecclesiastical panel deliberating the fate of an Episcopal bishop has admonished him to not attempt another sale of the St. James the Great Church in Newport Beach.
Hearing panel President Rt. Rev. Herman Hollerith IV said in a statement that he was emailed allegations earlier this month that Bishop J. Jon Bruno of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles had entered into a contract to the sell the Lido Isle-area property — an alleged repeat of the action that brought Bruno before the panel in March.
The panel contacted Bruno’s lawyers, who raised several objections, “but did not address the substance of the Complainant’s allegation that there is a pending sale, or furnish any documentation,” Hollerith wrote.
The statement did not say that Bruno had, in fact, entered a sales contract. Nor has it issued a verdict on the March hearing.
“If [Bruno] has entered into a contract to sell, or sold, the St. James property before the Hearing Panel has decided the case, that conduct is disruptive, dilatory and otherwise contrary to the integrity of this proceeding,” Hollerith wrote.
The panel barred Bruno from “selling or conveying or contracting to sell or convey the St. James property.”
In 2015, Bruno committed to selling the St. James site for $15 million to developers that wanted to raze the campus and build luxury townhomes. He changed the locks on the church that summer. The deal fizzled after the developers’ investment partner dropped out, but the church remains locked.
The congregation filed an ecclesiastical complaint not long after its eviction. Members alleged that Bruno was deceptive and unbecoming of a clergyman when he tried to sell the church site and that he didn’t have permission of the diocesan government to do so.
A diocese spokesman said the diocese had no comment.
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